Out of Time's Abyss

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 45

His fingers feeling
through the darkness came in contact with something cold and
clammy--they passed to and fro over the thing until Bradley knew that
it was the face of a dead man floating upon the surface of the stream.
With an oath he pushed his gruesome companion out into mid-stream to
float on down toward the great pool and the awaiting scavengers of the
deep.

At his four hundred and thirteenth step another corpse bumped against
him--how many had passed him without touching he could not guess; but
suddenly he experienced the sensation of being surrounded by dead faces
floating along with him, all set in hideous grimaces, their dead eyes
glaring at this profaning alien who dared intrude upon the waters of
this river of the dead--a horrid escort, pregnant with dire forebodings
and with menace.

Though he advanced very slowly, he tried always to take steps of about
the same length; so that he knew that though considerable time had
elapsed, yet he had really advanced no more than four hundred yards
when ahead he saw a lessening of the pitch-darkness, and at the next
turn of the stream his surroundings became vaguely discernible. Above
him was an arched roof and on either hand walls pierced at intervals by
apertures covered with wooden doors. Just ahead of him in the roof of
the aqueduct was a round, black hole about thirty inches in diameter.
His eyes still rested upon the opening when there shot downward from it
to the water below the naked body of a human being which almost
immediately rose to the surface again and floated off down the stream.
In the dim light Bradley saw that it was a dead Wieroo from which the
wings and head had been removed. A moment later another headless body
floated past, recalling what An-Tak had told him of the
skull-collecting customs of the Wieroo. Bradley wondered how it
happened that the first corpse he had encountered in the stream had not
been similarly mutilated.

The farther he advanced now, the lighter it became. The number of
corpses was much smaller than he had imagined, only two more passing
him before, at six hundred steps, or about five hundred yards, from the
point he had taken to the stream, he came to the end of the tunnel and
looked out upon sunlit water, running between grassy banks.

One of the last corpses to pass him was still clothed in the white robe
of a Wieroo, blood-stained over the headless neck that it concealed.

Drawing closer to the opening leading into

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